Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (Switch): COMPLETED!

There was no way I was ever going to not buy a game called Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion. It was even more likely I’d buy it when I saw the graphics, in their Zelda sort of way. And I’m glad I did get it because it was lovely.

Bad things first though. It’s short. Very short. I was expecting a Zelda length epic, but got maybe two hours tops out of it. Swapping items requires pressing Y and then choosing from a list of things, many of which you can’t actually use as they’re passive or to pass on to other characters. Since you swap between your sword and your watering can very frequently, it’s annoying you can’t assign each to a different button, or have a button to swap between the two. And speaking of buttons, the game uses B to “accept” and A to “cancel” and it’s very very annoying because that’s just wrong.

This barn could be considered a dungeon, I suppose?

But the good outweighs the bad. It’s a funny game (as you’d expect from the title) where you play as a naughty turnip who has been evicted from his greenhouse by Mayor Onion because he hasn’t paid his taxes. To make up for this, Mayor Onion gives you a number of tasks to perform, most of which have several diversions en-route. The other fruit and vegetables you meet are are quirky, from the gherkin mafia boss locked in a jar, to the baby acorn who gives you his leaf as a downpayment on some real estate. Gameplay is in the Zelda mould, with overworld wandering (and killing snails and worms) and buiildings and forests that act as short dungeons.

When you collect the little hearts (which replenish health), you burp,

You come across a few bosses, there are puzzles involving watering watermelons and portals, bombfruit to kick, babies to return to parents, books (and flyers, and bills, and anything else made of paper) to rip up, and lots of side missions which are all stupid as you uncover stuff about both your past and why all the vegetation is sentient. A compact little game with some laughs and and a few niggles, but definitely worth a play. Perhaps not at full price (about £13 I think) given the ease and length, but certainly in a sale.

Timespinner (Switch): COMPLETED!

The problem with Metroidvania games, like Kunai which I are completed just last week, is they’re somewhat moreish. Thankfully, Timespinner – which I’ve had my eye on for a while and was on sale recently – was there to feed my habit. And it is excellent.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s no Hollow Knight or Axiom Verge, but it is a really well put together action platformer with some time travel elements and nice pixel graphics, as well as some great music and a confusing but engrossing story. A story about you, a Time Messenger who has been trained to give up their history in case of attack so you can go back in time and warn your clan in advance. In a way, it’s a bit like that short-lived sci-fi series Seven Days. Only very different.

These creepy demons are a bit… sexy.

You end up a thousand years in the past, rather than a few days because of $storyreason, and flick between then and a few weeks after The Event trying to put right what once went wrong as another time-based sci-fi series would put it. Mostly this involves the usual genre thing of unlocking abilities that allow you to reach new areas, although time travel plays a role in opening a few areas too. Not many, though – and it’s a bit of a missed opportunity for the whole time element of the game to be more frequently used for puzzles and such as it’s disappointingly rare that anything you do in one period has a major effect in the other meaning they act rather more like two different worlds that happen to have very similar maps.

The gameplay is excellent though, so it doesn’t really matter much. There’s a lot of variety in the weapons you can equip (although I was happy with a big swingy sword for most of the game) and you also have additional passive powers and larger special attacks to choose too. And you can pause time, which is rarely needed to the point where I forgot it even existed for most of the game.

Placeholder text to be replaced with hammer time joke later.

Overall, it’s a great example of its genre, but falls a little short when it comes to making use of the main things that differentiate it from other similar titles. After completing it, you really should do what I did and go back to complete one of the optional quests in order to unlock the good, and whaaaaaaat-invoking, ending where you break time itself, No, really.

There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension (Switch): COMPLETED!

This is a strange little thing. It’s a 4th wall breaking point and click game where you interact with things like the status bars and icons as if they’re normal objects. So, for example, there’s a bit where you need to dig a hole, but you’ve nothing to dig with. You keep getting pop-up adverts for cereal, and you can grab the spoon in the advert and use that to dig the hole. There’s a section where you come across a TV and playing on the TV – once you get it working – is a Lucasarts style adventure game about Sherlock Holmes. Only you’re able to turn the TV around and operate the game from behind the scenes, changing the set, and even making the look, talk and search icons drop off the screen so you can use them elsewhere.

It means it’s very different to any other point and click game I’ve ever played, and some of the out of the box thinking needed for some of the puzzles makes you feel very clever.

It’s varied, with several different subverted game genres to play through, is packed with game references and comments on the gaming industry (there’s a particularly long rant about free to play games, for example), and there’s even a hint system if you get stuck (although I didn’t need it – it isn’t that difficult).

My only real issue with it is that you converse with the game itself, who constantly tells you whats going on, is baffled by how your logic works, and sadly, often gives the puzzle solution away with not so subtle hints before you’ve had a chance to work it out yourself.

Cattails (Switch): COMPLETED!

Sold to me as Stardew Valley Only Cats, Cattails isn’t really that. There are a lot of visual similarities, and there are shared features like a day/night cycle, improving your home, getting married, foraging and mining, but it’s much more simplistic than Stardew Valley and much shorter too. And there are more cats.

Starting the game as a pet dumped by the side of the road for reasons not explained (one minute you’re in a happy home, then literally a second later the mum of the family kicks you out), you join one of three wild cat tribes and set about surviving in nature. Which mostly involves hunting for small animals and picking berries and flowers.

Me and The Boyz are off to f some s up.

You can improve your skills so you’re able to catch prey more easily or swim further before downing, and there’s some turf warfare going on, but it’s pretty light on RPG elements really. The main storyline, such that it is, mostly requires you to collect certain dead creatures and flowers for some standing stones, as well as solve some generally simple puzzles, in order to make The Guardian return. So I did that.

Cattails could not be described as a challenging game, nor is it deep or complex, and the story is… somewhat missing. But it is a simplistic and relaxing game, and did only cost me about a quid, so I can hardly complain.

I’ll be honest – I’m only interested in you Missy because you live next door and I’m a lazy, lazy cat.

Kunai (Switch): COMPLETED!

I was in the mood for a nice little pixelly Metroidvania, and then this appeared and was on sale. Also, Kendrick off of the ugvm podcast said it was good but of course it turns out he’s barely played it. Thankfully, he was right despite this.

The plot is silly nonsense about computers at war rebel computers and you’re a sentient iPad with legs who can save the world or something. Ignore that though, and instead enjoy the excellent traversal mechanics which are given to you piecemeal as per any other Metroidvania game. There’s a double jump, but then you get the kunai of the title which are actually more like ninja ropes – shoot them at a wall or ceiling and use them to pull yourself up or swing across gaps. You also get submachine guns that act as a sort of hover if you shoot downwards, and everything combined makes for a very nimble iPad indeed.

There’s lots of different baddies to swipe with your sword or shoot with your guns, and a few bosses (which are all surprisingly easy), which are fun too but getting around the areas is the main draw here for me, although I had to frequently refer to the map as some areas were confusing. It’s a shame there wasn’t a Metroid style mini-map on screen all the time as I think that would have helped somewhat.

I collected quite a few of the hidden items, but the game was easy enough to not need more health upgrades than I acquired, and I didn’t ever need more money than I found from just playing normally. Most of the rest of the chests that I missed I expect were useless hats – there being a lot of them in the game and aside from a bit of ridiculousness on your iPad’s head, they serve no purpose whatsoever, which was a bit disappointing. If they gave you, I dunno, higher jumps, or slower falling, or a money vacuum or something, that’d have been nice.

That aside, Kunai is a perfectly good game in the genre, that doesn’t do anything particularly special but is a lot of fun.

Pokémon Sword: The Crown Tundra (Switch): COMPLETED!

The second, and presumably final, expansion pack for Pokémon Sword/Shield, The Crown Tundra is set in a mostly snowy region and involves hunting for a lot of legendary pokémon in various ways.

Peony, a character you meet at the start, gives you three main legends to look into. The first has you finding the local “new to the series” legendary – Calyrex, then finding his horse by growing a carrot. Yeah, one carrot. Calyrex doesn’t have enough power for more. You can get one of two horses, depending where you grow the carrot – an ice type or a ghost type. I went with the latter. With them reunited, the next mission is to gain entry to four mysterious temples and capture the Regi-series pokémon within. It’s a minor puzzle task to open the temples up, and then a tricky task to actually capture them without killing them and they’re all alarmingly resistant to pokéballs.

Finally, you have to capture three Galarian variants of previous game legendaries – Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno – by chasing them across both the Tundra and both previous areas in the game.

With those done (and it essentially being The End), I completed a side quest for Sonia, who wanted me to find three more legendaries by discovering 50 sets of footprints for each of Cobalion, Virizion, and Terrakion and then catching them. Again, this was difficult, especially for Cobalion as I went through over 60 Ultra Balls even while he was on virtually zero HP and was fast asleep.

And then I went into the Dynamax mine area place where it had been reported a load of Ultra Beasts (from Pokémon Sun and Moon) had appeared, and caught myself a Tapu Fini. Phew, eh?

This was definitely the better of the two DLC packs. It’s bigger, more varied, and more interesting. When are the new Diamond and Pearl remakes out, again?

Fire ‘N Ice (Switch): COMPLETED!

What I first thought was a more simplistic Solomon’s Key type game, Fire ‘N Ice actually turned out to be a prequel to Solomon’s Key and was released as Solomon’s Key 2 in some countries. It loses the moving (and respawning) enemies from the original, as well as the attacks, jumping, and time limits, leaving just the ability to create or destroy ice blocks immediately down-left and down-right of you. And it’s all the better for it.

With no time limit and very few parts where timing is critical, the game is properly in puzzle territory and this suits it well. Solomon’s Key was too stressful for me! You only have to concern yourself with how to squash all the static (for the most part) enemies by dropping or pushing ice blocks onto or into them. That doesn’t mean it’s easier, it just means it’s lest chaotic.

With 100 levels to get through, some of which used your limited options really cleverly (like, how do you climb higher up the level, if you’re only able to create blocks below you?), it’s a long game despite each being just one single screen. I easily spent 5-6 hours on it. I’m not even sure why I started playing in the first place – but I’m glad I did as it’s a wonderful hidden gem of a game.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’m sure this will cause complaints, same as previously when I’ve “completed” Animal Crossing games, but I have a system and I’m sticking to it. Yes, on one end of the scale people would say the game is complete when you’ve achieved all the in-game stamps from Tom Nook, or when you’ve made every item in the DIY list, or filled the museum, or any number of other things perhaps in combination. On the other end of the scale, you’ve people saying when they’ve seen the credits, which for me happened about 8 weeks in when KK Slider did his first Saturday gig. My criteria, is play every day for a whole year, and so, on day 365, that’s it. I’ve seen a whole year’s worth of events, never missed a day, and the game is completed.

Finished though? Of course not.

But how was the game? Well, it was Animal Crossing. It’s probably the most different from the rest Animal Crossing, though, in a number of ways. The main two are the DIY crafting, and the island construction additions, where you create furniture and special items with the former and restructure your entire island, knocking down cliffs, making new lakes and rivers and so on, with the latter. There’s also a fair bit missing, though – no coffee shop with Brewster, no parade of shops, no second hand shop, no Lyle, Kapp’n, Tortimer or many other regulars.

Ultimately, though, it is more of the same. You plant trees, harvest fruit, collect things for your house, chat with animals, pay off your mortgage, and visit other people in their islands. And actually, that’s fine.

Some people wonder what I found to do for all this time, and I’ve not really any idea. Each day has the same routine: Smack rocks, find the buried money, plant more money, “harvest” the grown money tree, collect the bottle on one of the beaches, dig up, identify then sell all the fossils, and that sort of thing. I’ve also had a vague medium term goal in mind which I’d then spend some time working towards: Early on, this was to grow an orchard with rows of trees for each fruit, later it was to hit various Bell targets (having long since paid off Nook’s mortgage), and more recently it has been to grow every type of flower – blue roses still elude me, sadly.

Mostly, though, it’s just relaxing to wander round and do menial tasks for no real actual gain. And sure, I’ve done a year but I’m still going to play it until I get fed up, which probably won’t be for a while yet. Especially if Nintendo are still chucking new stuff in every now and again!

One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 Deluxe Edition (Switch): COMPLETED!

Bought simply because I saw it for £9 and thought, even if it’s HYRULE WARRIORS’ rubbish cousin, it’d be a fun musou game for a bit in two player, and you know what? It was! Fun, I mean. Not rubbish.

OK, so I have no idea what One Piece is about, have no affinity for the characters and stories shown in the game, and it isn’t as slick or clever as either Hyrule game or Fire Emblem Warriors (even though it’s the same team that developed it), but it’s still great, mindless, button mashy smacky fun. It doesn’t actually matter that neither myself or my daughter recognised anyone in the game, because it’s simple to play and actually, who they are have no relevance to the gameplay anyway.

We’ve done the story, and there’s a lot more to unlock, but for £9 it was a bloody bargain,

Fantasy Zone (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’ve mentioned before, but side and vertical shooters are not one my favourite genres. Sure, I play them, but it takes a special one for me to really enjoy it and buy it multiple times. Like Fantasy Zone.

It was only recently (checks… SIX YEARS AGO?!) that I completed this on the 3DS, and now I’ve done it again. It didn’t take anywhere neat as long this time, thankfully, but it was still pretty difficult. Again, Level 3 proved the hardest part (except perhaps the boss rush at the end).

Why aren’t more shooters this colourful anyway?

Bowser’s Fury (Switch): COMPLETED!

Included with the Switch port of Super Mario 3D World, Bowser’s Fury reuses all the power-ups, enemies and gimmicks from that game but adds cat ears to literally everything and gives you a fully controllable camera. It’s also one complete open world, a bit like an extra large Super Mario Odyssey level.

Bowser has gone out of control, and you need to collect Cat Shines to keep him in check. Every so often he rises from the black goo that covers the world, tried to kill you, and you send him back with the shines. As you collect more shines, you reveal more areas by getting rid of the goo.

Working in two player mode, with my daughter as Bowser Jr (who is concerned his dad is a bit too evil now), we collected all 100 Cat Shines in a few hours. It’s not a massive game, but it is excellent and something new in the Mario world.

Super Mario 3D World (Switch): COMPLETED!

There was no way I was going to buy a copy of Super Mario 3D World for the Switch when I already owned it on the Wii U which is still connected to the TV the Switch is. So of course that’s what I did anyway. With my remaining Nintendo Online game voucher thing, so it only cost £21.50 and I’d bought the vouchers before HYRULE WARRIORS: Age of Calamity come out so that’s basically forgotten money now, right?

Anyway, it’s still really good. Because it’s the same game as before, and it was really good then. Touch controls (for prodding switches and baddies and things) are translated into gyro controls like they were in Super Mario Galaxy and don’t work as well as on the Wii U, but they’re barely used in the game so it doesn’t really matter.

Played through the story with my daughter as the whole game is co-op. That actually works both as a positive (when you die you don’t restart – you respawn providing the other player doesn’t die) and a negative (you get in each others’ way and push the camera on too fast). We’ve not got all the green stars yet (far from it), but have beaten the final boss. Before we go back and mop up, however, Bowser’s Fury awaits!

1943 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Capcom Arcade Stadium, yet another collection of Capcom arcade titles, was released on the Switch this week. You get 1943 for free, so I played it. And then completed it.

I mean, you get infinite continues so doing so isn’t really hard. Although the game is. Not least because you seem to have a combined fuel and energy bar which constantly dwindles, and there are a number of waves of baddies where avoiding them or their fire is completely impossible. Plus some of the bosses don’t give you enough time to take them down before they’re gone – meaning you fail the mission have have to try again, hoping you’ve enough smart bombs this time.

Still, it’s mindless and slick and fun.

Syberia 3 (Switch): COMPLETED!

It just so happened that soon after completing Syberia 2, the third game in the series was reduced on the Switch eShop from £45 to about £8. Perfect timing, and so here it is.

With the story essentially concluded at the end of 2, Syberia 3 starts with Kate Walker in a hospital having been dropped there by youkols (the people who you found near the end of the previous game) who had discovered her freezing to death after her boat wrecked – presumably on her way home from Mammothland. The plot involves her escape, and then helping the youkols migrate their snow ostriches to some ancestral grounds “over the border”. The border being important as one of the doctors at the hospital, and some unnamed military group, are in cahoots trying to stop both you and the youkols from making it, for reasons that seem to only amount to “because we don’t like them living in a non-modern way”.

Unlike the first two games, the graphics are now fully 3D in a fixed camera format, not completely unlike Resident Evil, rather than mainly static 2D canvasses. It’s a bit jarring at first – literally, as there’s some jerkiness – but I soon got used to it. Also changed is the inventory, where you now have an “item wheel” to select stuff from, and when you interact with things you sometimes “gesture” with the control stick to open, twist, or move knobs, doors, handles, and so on. It doesn’t really add anything, but at least they thought to try something different, I suppose. It does feel like this should have been a Wii game, though!

The puzzles are as good as before, and the locations are great and varied – like an abandoned fairground in Not Chernobyl Honest, and an old olympic stadium. The story isn’t as good, and you don’t meet so many great characters as in the original games, but overall it’s still definitely worth playing. And it makes me want them to hurry up and finish Syberia 4 now too!

Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yes, that’s really the name of the game.

Luminous Avenger is a sort of sequel to Gunvolt Striker 2, in that it follows on from that albeit about 100 years later and with you playing as Copen, Gunvolt’s nemesis. Although it turned out Gunvolt and Copen were really on the same side, sort of, but from different directions. Anyway, mankind has been mostly enslaved or destroyed by the bad guys from the previous games and Copen is now a machine because, well, 100 years have passed. Gunvolt isn’t in it because (spoilers) he be dead. Yeah, the Copen ending of Gunvolt 2 seems to be the canonical one? Whatever, it seems you didn’t save the world and in fact, it all got a lot worse.

The game plays out just like before, with Mega Man style bosses that give you special powers that are especially good against other bosses. Copen’s gimmick is he can fly into enemies which then targets them to be shot or have those special powers triggered on them. There’s often a bit of aerial action where you “bump” from enemy to enemy fo combos and to pass dangers or bottomless pits.

Just like previous games in the series, it’s very slick, a lot of fun, and has bosses that seem impossible to beat until you realise they’re not. Now, where’s Gunvolt Striker 3, eh?